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Refining her skill set through flexible, online learning.

"The course was very well organized and offered the flexibility I needed to maintain success at work while continuing my education."

Seeking to refine her skill set for career advancement, Sammy Mutti turned to Conestoga and successfully completed the Geographical Information Systems Software-ArcView course delivered through online learning.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Sammy about her pathway to Conestoga and how her learning has helped in providing her with new skills to gain a competitive edge in her profession.

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1. Describe your pathway to Conestoga.

I was initially directed towards enrolling at Conestoga by my employer. I am currently working as a water resources engineer for a municipal water and wastewater consulting firm in the Region of Waterloo.

A large portion of my job responsibilities includes utilizing GIS-based hydraulic modeling software to analyze municipal water supply and distribution systems. I started my job with very little exposure to ArcGIS software and turned to Conestoga to develop and refine my skill set.

2. What would you describe as some of the strengths you found in your course?

The course was very well organized and offered the flexibility I needed to maintain success at work while continuing my education. I enjoyed the online discussion boards and the ability to interact with my classmates when I needed clarifications on the course material or when completing assignments.

My course instructor was also key to the success of the course - the instructor responded in a timely manner to all questions and was easily contacted if any problems came up.

3. What was your reason for registering in this course?

Although my primary reason was career advancement, personal development and a desire to continue learning when given the opportunity also played a factor.

Geographical Information Systems Software-ArcView was delivered online and suited both Sammy's demanding work schedule and personal lifestyle. When asked about her initial perception of an online course and whether this had changed after her experience, Sammy replied:

"My perception towards an online setting has changed since completing the course with Conestoga. My previous exposure to an online course was during University; I felt isolated and lost at times when I struggled to understand the course material. The vast amount of resources provided to the students by Conestoga (i.e., textbook, discussion boards with classmates, and easy to contact instructors to name a few) made this online experience very enjoyable. The instructor maintained constant communication with the students and responded to questions in a timely fashion. The online course was easy to navigate and the discussion boards made me feel connected to the other students in the course."

4. What positive outcomes have come from continuing your education?

As a young professional, being able to network with like-minded individuals - my classmates - was extremely insightful. Learning how GIS is used in other industries gave me a different perspective and some specific new ideas that I have been able to apply to my projects. This course has certainly given me a competitive edge in my professional life and will benefit both myself and my employer moving forward.

5. How were you able to fit the course-work into your day-to-day life?

The online course setting provided me with the flexibility I needed to fit the work into my day-to-day life. A detailed course schedule was provided at the very beginning of the term which allowed me to prioritize assignments, quizzes and course readings with my job. Being well aware of course requirements and having a flexible course schedule minimized stress and allowed me to excel both in my job and in school.

6. If you could share advice with others considering Conestoga's programs and courses, what would it be?

I highly recommend Conestoga programs/courses! I was unsure at first and thought that part-time studies would be too much of a commitment while working full time. Conestoga courses are extremely well organized and provide a positive and collaborative learning environment for students. Conestoga will lead you to a vast amount of professional and personal development opportunities.

Sammy described her overall experience as a part-time student:

"From the well-organized and flexible courses, to the extensive resources available to the students and professional and knowledgeable staff - Conestoga part-time studies has been a very positive and beneficial experience for me!"

Conestoga College wishes to thank Sammy for sharing her experience.

Gaining a competitive edge

I was able to complete the final credits required for the full-time post-secondary diploma that I had worked diligently to achieve, all while maintaining my active lifestyle and spending quality time with my family. Now that I have my diploma, I have been able to kick-start my new career path faster than I had ever imagined possible.

A graduate from Conestoga's School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services, Trevor Wey's passion for people and problem solving were drivers to his success through part-time studies.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Trevor about his unique pathway with Conestoga and his success in obtaining his full-time Protection, Security and Investigation diploma by completing and receiving credits through part-time studies.

Describe your pathway to Conestoga.

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I began my journey at Conestoga when I applied for the Culinary Fundamentals program. As an individual who had pursued the culinary arts through high school as well as the years leading up to applying for college, I initially planned on a culinary career. Although I was accepted into the program, an unforeseen personal issue led me to change my pathway and pursue an entirely new direction that allowed me to focus on my real passions - working with people and problem-solving. Although I still enjoy cooking, I believed that my new career path would enable me to help people in a much more meaningful way.

What was your reasoning for applying to the program?

Although my primary reason was a desire to change careers, career advancement and personal development played a part in my decision-making as well.

What were some of the strengths you found in your courses?

The courses provided me with the necessary in-class interaction to acquire the knowledge to successfully complete all assignments. The courses also provided an active learning component, allowing me to gain both academic credentials and real-world experience, and giving me the competitive edge I needed when entering the workforce.

With your courses delivered both in-class and online, what were your initial perceptions about online studies?

A combination of both in-class and online courses perfectly suited my lifestyle. I was a little hesitant about online at first due to the unnerving feeling of having to face certain portions of the courses alone; however, the feeling quickly subsided as I learned that I was not alone at all. There were a number of valuable resources at my disposal, with classmates being among the most important.

How were you able to fit the course work into your day-to-day life?

During the process of registering for part-time studies, my spouse was also returning from maternity leave to post-secondary studies to finish her last term in a full-time program. Together we were able to receive enough funding to allow me to take some time off so that I could care for our children and spend some much needed quality time with them. My courses were held in the evenings, and hers were during the day. Any assignments or studying that was required would be completed after the children were asleep. We were quite lucky to have such a beautifully harmonised schedule, allowing us to achieve our diplomas together. This was very special to us not only because we graduated together, but also due to the fact that we met at Conestoga while taking the same program.

If you could share advice with others considering Conestoga's programs and courses, what would it be?

DO NOT HESITATE! Conestoga has a vast amount of high quality academic options, and even more networking and career opportunities. What are you waiting for? Get out there and create the future that you have known you deserve.

Do you plan on furthering your development by enrolling in other part-time courses with Conestoga?

I am currently gaining experience within my chosen field, but as I mentioned earlier, career advancement and personal development are always part of the grand scheme of things!

Filling the skills gap to build a successful career

After completing her undergraduate degree, Fay Zhao obtained her first full-time job in a field unrelated to her studies. She recognized the gap between her existing skills and knowledge, and what she would need in order to be successful in her new career.

Hoping to build her knowledge and obtain an industry-recognized certification without giving up her job, Fay completed Conestoga's Global Business Management graduate certificate program though part- time studies.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Fay about her journey with Conestoga and how it has helped expand her knowledge and build her career.

What would you describe as some of the strengths
you found in your program?Faye Zhao.jpg

Flexible schedule options and smaller classes were definitely the biggest strengths. The learning atmosphere is different in small-class environments where students are encouraged to reflect on their own study and work experience. In addition to gaining real-world perspective from highly qualified faculty members

who have extensive work experience in the subjects they teach, I was also able to learn from my classmates who work in the same field. Their insights included new ideas and more effective ways of approaching and completing tasks.

What was your reason for registering in this program?

I wanted to acquire applicable knowledge that I can use immediately at work.  Continuing education is also a great way to further develop core business competencies.

Did you complete your courses through in-class or online study?

I have taken both in-class and online courses, and I found both delivery options great.

What was your initial perception of online learning? Did it change after your experience?

My initial perception of online learning was that I would have to do everything on my own. After finishing two online courses at Conestoga, my perception changed. Instructors were very accessible and they responded to questions very quickly. The online portal helped me stay connected. Group assignments and case studies provided opportunities to connect with fellow classmates who share similar interests or work in the same field. Online classes are a convenient alternative when there are time constraints or other commitments. They offer flexibility and require no travel time.

What positive outcomes have come from continuing your education?

Through continuing my education, I expanded my knowledge and was able to apply my new learning to work. Most importantly, I experienced a feeling of personal fulfillment every time I successfully completed a course.

How were you able to fit the course-work into your day-to- day life?

It was relatively easy for me. Learning has always been an important part of my day- to-day life. When I consider something important, I will find time for it.

If you could share advice with others considering Conestoga's programs and courses, what would it be?

There is always something new and something interesting to learn. Continuing Education is not only for job-related needs or skills development; it is also a great way to learn about subjects of personal interest. Conestoga offers a wide range of programs and courses and a variety of learning options. You are sure to find a program or course that fits your needs.

Do you plan on furthering your development by enrolling in other part-time courses with Conestoga?

Definitely! Learning something new is always fun and rewarding, and it keeps me motivated.


Conestoga College wishes to thank Fay for sharing her experience.

Turning a hobby into a career

Sam Nafziger had worked in a variety of jobs - in an office setting, for a home healthcare company, in a butcher shop and as a personal trainer in a gym - but none of those roles gave him a sense of fulfillment, so he thought about going back to school to find a new career. With the guidance of his father, Sam decided to explore the possibility of entering Trades Training at Conestoga.

Building and creating at home was something Sam thoroughly enjoyed. Although the thought of turning his hobby into a career was nerve-racking, he followed his dad's advice and registered in Gas Technician courses through Continuing Education. Entering this field allowed him to further his personal interests while being paid to learn something he really enjoyed.

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We recently had the opportunity to speak with Sam about his journey with Conestoga and how it has helped create new opportunities for his new career.

What would you describe as some of the strengths you found in these courses?

The biggest strength I found was the variety of classmates. While a few were making a career change, many were already experienced within the trades industry. The practical knowledge of my classmates provided a variety of views on the coursework.

How did your instructors and these courses prepare you for the real world in this industry?

My instructor Mike continuously shared his personal experience in the field. He took the time to relate the course material to his real-world experience and encouraged my classmates and me to do the same. This was valuable as it bridged the gap between real world and textbook in a way I hadn't seen before.

What positive outcomes have come from continuing your education?

The trades industry fits my personal hobby background well. Where I was unsatisfied and unfulfilled with my work previously, I am now able to stand back at the end of the day and say, "I did this. I built this."

How were you able to fit the course work into your day-to-day life?

My courses were in the evening and during the week which allowed me to complete my courses on my own time, not interfering with everyday life.

Sam shared some advice with others considering Conestoga's part-time programs and courses:

"Pursue your career aspirations. The staff and courses at Conestoga have helped me to get into a career I now enjoy every day."

Education for Everyday Life

When Rachel Hillis completed Grade 12, she decided to take a break from the classroom.

 Rachel wasn't certain of her career path, and although she wanted to pursue her education at some point, she struggled to find the right fit that would allow her to continue to work and dance. When she found out about Conestoga's part-time, online ed2go courses, which offer the flexibility and choice she was looking for, Rachel made the decision to pursue her passion for learning and continue her education.ce-fall2015.jpg

Her sister Julia, inspired by Rachel's success, also decided to pursue ed2go courses through Conestoga. "I liked the variety of courses available, the cost, and the fact that I would still be able to work and travel while I continued my education," she stated.

Rachel and Julia have now completed a number of Conestoga's 6-week, instructorled and interactive online ed2go courses, including: Achieving Success with Difficult People, Get Paid to Travel, Leadership and Speed Spanish.

What would you describe as some of the strengths you found in taking courses through ed2go?

Rachel: Taking courses through ed2go allowed me to work, dance and spend time with my friends and family, as well as travel. I was able to plan time to complete the two weekly lessons, and could learn at my own pace. I found that I could retain the lessons quite easily, and never felt intimidated. This in turn made me feel quite confident when it came to doing the next lessons and the final exam.

What were your perceptions about online education?

Julia: My sister's experience helped me to develop a very positive perception of online education. I knew that the courses were not only convenient, but challenging as well.

What was your reasoning for choosing to study online versus a traditional classroom setting? Rachel: I loved the idea of being able to work and think things through on my own. I also appreciated the fact that I could take a wide variety of courses that appealed to me and noto be committed to one specific area of learning. I enjoyed doing the courses in my own space, along with having time for my own personal engagements.

What positive outcomes have come from continuing your education?

Rachel: I believe that there have been many positive outcomes as a result of continuing my education. Taking courses related to assertiveness was an important step in my personal growth as they helped me build confidence in myself and my abilities. These courses, combined with other courses in communication and management skills, have helped me land my dream job on a cruise ship. I have been a Youth Counsellor for almost two years now. I'm inspired by my experience with continuing education to take more courses and apply for advancement within the company.

How were you able to fit the course-work into your day-to-day life?

Julia: I was able to set time aside weekly to complete my course work. At the same time, I didn't have to worry if something came up and I was unable to complete it as planned. I was able to change my schedule accordingly. I always tried to schedule my course work at the same time and not leave it until the last minute.

If you could share advice with others considering Conestoga's ed2go courses, what would it be? Julia: Online education is affordable. It offers you a variety of classes at a variety of levels. It is convenient, yet challenging, and has courses that are applicable to everyday life.

Do you plan on furthering your development by enrolling in other part-time, online courses with Conestoga?

Rachel and Julia: Definitely.

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